As I opened up my Spotify app earlier today, I found myself drawn to an album I hadn’t listened to in a few months. I know that I said that this series was meant to be an effort in exploring new music avenues, but sometimes you need to take a stroll down memory lane, and revisit songs that hit you hard. Today was one of those days.
Today’s Song of the Day comes from the Arctic Monkeys’ most recent album, “Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino”. “Star Treatment” is the first track, and was my first exposure to the Arctic Monkeys’ new sound.
It’s clear from the opening chord progression that “Star Treatment” signals a new direction for the Arctic Monkeys. The laid back, repetitive, jazzy, progression sounds like it belongs in a hotel lounge, or elevator. But it works as the perfect backdrop for Alex Turner’s meandering vocals.
In the opening lines, Turner makes a blunt reference to The Strokes, a band that heavily influenced him. “I just wanted to be one of The Strokes / Now look at the mess you made me make / Hitchhiking with a monogrammed suitcase / Miles away from any half-useful imaginary highway”.
In an interview with Radio X, Turner sheds some light on this reference. “The arrival of The Strokes changed what music I was listening to, what shoes I was wearing. I grew my hair out and borrowed my mum’s blazer. I was a huge fan. That line seemed to encapsulate this idea that a period of time went by in a flash”.
My favorite set of lines comes a little later in the same verse, and really speaks to our culture’s preoccupation with entertainment. “I found out the hard way / That here ain’t no place for dolls like you and me / Everybody’s on a barge / Floating down the endless stream of great TV / 1984, 2019”.
Apparently, the first two lines date back to 2009. Turner said: “I even tried to get somebody else to put it in a song, but they didn’t like it. Maybe I was saving it because I didn’t have the follow-up.”
If you ask me, waiting for the follow-up was well worth it. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Listen to the whole song if you want a better idea of what Turner has to say.